Amy and Guillermo Arellanes had a dream of expanding their home on the east side of Batavia.
“I could not imagine moving and then driving past to see that someone had fixed up the house the way that we would have liked to do,” she admitted.
Then circumstances aligned to begin work on the project when her husband, who is well-versed in carpentry and construction, found his work schedule changing to the point where there might be time to engage the home addition project. Guillermo has deep experience working with older homes, so they hired an architect to consider how to expand the home they love.
That brought Amy and Guillermo before the City of Batavia with a proposal to do the addition to their home. “That began two years ago,” she shares. “But the renovation took a couple rounds by the architect to become practical. The home was built in 1880, when there were no codes. Plus the house was built right on a property line, so we needed to seek a variance to move forward.”
Seeking a variance requires community input. So Amy sent out more than 100 letters within a defined perimeter of the house seeking input from neighbors about the proposed plan to expand. “We didn’t get any complaints,” she observes. “And generally in these things, no news is good news.”
There was one immediate neighbor who wanted to negotiate over the existing lot and actually buy part of the property as a form of exchange. “But we like our property,” Amy says. “So we didn’t want to subdivide.”
Need to grow
The existing home was a two-story home with 2BR and only one bath. That’s hardly enough for a family that includes a daughter Alexandra, now 15, and son Sebastian, age 11. “We share a room,” Alexandra sighed over the lunch interview with her mom at a Batavia eatery. “It’s not ideal.”
That’s probably the understatement of the century, so it was with some urgency that Amy and Guillermo began the process of seeking a variance for the upward addition that would expand the home to a three-bedroom, two-bath structure.
The variance process required several appearances before the City Council as the approval process proceeded. But finally the project passed muster, a process that concluded with an affidavit and more than a few blueprints to direct the project.
Plans to life
That meant Guillermo could proceed, and on a hot August afternoon, he and a fellow worker could be seen within the shady upstairs of the house under construction. Amy called him down for a family photo, and he climbed down the ladder to pose. A sheen of sweat shone on his face and Amy smiled as she pointed inside the house. “We’re all kind of living where we can,” she smiled. “But it’s going to be worth it.”
One of her favorite moments in the process was the support she received before the city council where an anonymous neighbor spoke up on their behalf in expanding on the beautiful older home. “That meant so much to me,” Amy said. “That someone just from the community would embrace our dream and speak up for us. It says a lot about Batavia that someone would do that.”